No sign off trouble before deadly plane crash

GARDNERVILLE " South Lake Tahoe resident David Berne said he was hiking in Taylor Creek canyon when he saw a twin-engine airplane making sharp banking turns, flying 200-300 feet above Carson Valley on Saturday.

Berne snapped a picture of the aircraft just seconds before one of the deadliest airplane crashes the county has seen in 45 years.

Five people died in the airplane, piloted by 58-year-old aviation businessman Gary Annas, that took off from Minden-Tahoe Airport at

4 p.m.

Annas went to a branding party and asked if anyone wanted to accompany him on a flight, a federal investigator told the Associated Press.

Paul Dallas, 43, of Minden; Leia Denner, 40, and Brent Fahey, 30, both of Gardnerville; and Beau McGrath, 30, of Kirkwood, Calif., took him up on his offer.

The group took off from Minden-Tahoe in a twin-engine Beechcraft BE 95, leaving two vehicles and a dog behind.

Annas flew southwest over the west Carson Valley, flying over the party before passing south of Mottsville Lane.

Witnesses told Sheriff Ron Pierini there was no sign of difficulty with the aircraft, when Annas pulled up suddenly and then the plane nosed over into a dive.

The plane crashed into a field alongside Mottsville Meadows Way, within sight of the party, killing all five people on board.

On Monday, federal investigators were digging out the engines of the aircraft in an effort to clear the wreckage. The wreckage was taken to Sacramento for more examination.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Van McKenny said he wouldn't speculate on the cause of the accident.

He said the impact drove the engines 4-5 feet into the field where the aircraft hit.

McKenny said that the Beechcraft BE 95 was under visual flight rules when it took off from Minden-Tahoe Airport at 4 p.m. Under those circumstances, it's rare that someone file a flight plan unless they're going a long distance.


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